Ukrainians not ready to negotiate peace with Russia on its terms - Munich Security Report

Ukrainians not ready to negotiate peace with Russia on its terms - Munich Security Report

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Ukrinform
Ukrainians, despite the difficult situation at the front, are not ready to negotiate peace with Russia on its terms and believe in their Euro-Atlantic future.

These are the results of a survey that was presented in the Munich Security Report 2024, which was released in Berlin on Monday, February 12, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

According to the Munich Security Index 2024, for an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (92%), only a complete Russian withdrawal from all their territories, including Crimea, would therefore be acceptable terms for a ceasefire. Only 2% are ready to support peace on the condition that Russian troops remain in Ukraine, whereas 14% would agree to Russia returning to the demarcation line of February 24, 2022.

Despite the limited success of Ukraine's counteroffensive, 80% of Ukrainian citizens believe that their country will win the war.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians unambiguously see their future in the West. The vast majority want to join the EU and NATO (84% and 79% respectively) and hope to do so within five years. Three-quarters are not against a temporary deterioration in the standard of living on the condition of rapid accession to the EU.

The report notes that notwithstanding Russia's failure to make any substantial military progress, Putin is showing no signs of wanting to negotiate. To the contrary, Russia will spend more than 7% of its GDP, or 29% of all government expenditure, in 2024 on defense and is massively ramping up its defense industrial production. The Russian public is supportive, or at least acquiescent, of this strategy, as many have bought into Putin's framing that Russia is locked into a wider contest with the West, with Ukraine merely the initial battleground. War has thus become "the organizing principle of Russian life" and the "raison d'etre for the entire machinery of Putinism."

The authors call Alexander Lukashenko Russia's "co-aggressor," because Belarus, which is Russia's only ally in Eastern Europe, played a central role in Russia's attack on Ukraine.

"In Eastern Europe, Moscow's imperial ambitions have already resulted in war and undermined all visions for a cooperative security order for the foreseeable future. The result is a lose-lose situation in which Ukraine risks losing the most, with its very survival as an independent country at stake, while Putin's war is also taking a massive toll on the Russian population. And Europeans can no longer reap the peace dividend, having to spend more on their own defense and in support of Ukraine," the report reads.

It states that Russia's brutal war on Ukraine leaves no doubt of Putin's imperial plans for Eastern Europe. The Kremlin spelled out its vision for what it considers to be its exclusive sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space in two draft treaties "on security guarantees" in December 2021, including demanding that NATO troops withdraw from countries that had joined the Alliance after 1997. Russia's undermining of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe are also cases in point. Ukraine is the primary target of Russia's attempts to force post-Soviet countries back into its orbit by committing "an array of war crimes" and, some argue, genocide.

Russia's war has compelled the EU to view enlargement as a geostrategic tool to move countries out of the gray zone. But it is unclear how quickly this can happen and whether all members are willing to bear the costs. NATO enlargement is on the agenda, too, but internal disagreements stand in the way of quick progress.

The Russian post-Soviet "empire" currently only extends to Belarus. While Russia has failed to draw Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and the Western Balkans into its camp, it can still spoil their EU and NATO ambitions. Therefore, EU and NATO members should rapidly back up the promise to shrink Eastern Europe's gray zone and help Ukraine defeat Russia with substantial and sustained political, financial, and military assistance, the report said.

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